(CBS) — Some Illinois colleges and universities may be concealing sex assaults on campus, according to data that showed publicly reported numbers are lower than statistics provided privately to the Illinois Attorney General.
Students told CBS 2’s Irika Sargent that they want their stories of sexual assault made public.
“I want to feel safe on my own campus,” Northwestern student Pragya Chandra said.
Bailey Reed, a former student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, fell in love with the campus. Her senior year changed that.
She said a classmate wanted help with a paper and came over to her dorm to study.
“I went to sit on my bed,” she said. “He pulled me on top of him and I tried to pull away.”
Reed said he tried to kiss her, then shoved her.
“That still is probably one of the scariest moments that I’ve had. He was like, ‘Did I tell you, you could move’ and he flipped me over and he pinned me down.”
That’s when she said he raped her.
Reed went to the hospital and filed a criminal report with police. But here’s where she said her faith in her school began to unravel.
She said someone from SIUE’s Office of Equal Opportunity came to see her and tried to discourage her from filing an official school complaint.
But Reed insisted.
“They said, yeah they would move forward in doing that for me, and they never did.’ ”
Reed said only after her mother kept calling SIUE did they accept her complaint and investigate.
She said it got worse, with SIUE letting the man go to class but telling her to watch online. A judge granted her a permanent order of protection and police arrested the man for violating it. Reed said the school did nothing to discipline him.
Even with his arrest, Reed says she was still afraid.
The SIUE Title IX investigator found in the man’s favor. Reed appealed and a panel sided with her, but the Chancellor overturned it.
Then, Reed found out that just two months before her alleged attack, the Department of Education declared SIUE had a pattern of failing to investigate claims of sex assault, excluding evidence and not properly training their employees. She filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university.
Now she worries SIUE is concealing the number of sex assaults.
Federal law under the Clery Act makes schools publicly post the number of sex violence reports. We found them on SIUE’S website.
For 2017, Reed’s school shows seven. But CBS 2 found a report filed with the Illinois Attorney General cited 26 complaints for that same year. SIUE doesn’t show this to the public on their website.
“Students who are looking at prospective colleges should be able to know what they are getting themselves into,” said Nicole Gorovsky, who is Reed’s attorney.
CBS 2 obtained private numbers for 2016 and 2017 straight from the Illinois Attorney General, but only after sending a written request and waiting for the data nearly six months.
In 2015, the state created a law that makes colleges report the number of sex violence reports each year to the Attorney General. However, this law doesn’t make schools reveal the numbers to the public. So, many don’t.
Jamie Ball, Director of SIUE’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination, said the lower public numbers come from on-campus assaults. The larger number comes from incidents reported by students anywhere and any time.
“Only the on-campus sexual assaults are included in the Clery numbers and that’s a clear directive under the Clery act,” Ball said.
CBS 2 also found drastic differences in other schools across the state, including many around Chicago.
For 2016, DePaul publicly reports 23 cases of sex violence, but 72 to the AG. For 2017, 20 in the public report compared with 60 to the AG.
Eureka College lists zero in their public report for both years, but double-digit numbers in their AG report.
At Northwestern, for 2016 the school shows 16 in the federal report, but to the AG, it nearly doubles to 30. The university reported a similar jump in 2017.
That’s when Pragya Chandra said she was attacked by a fellow student at Northwestern. She told CBS 2 he came to her dorm after a party.
“He started touching me and like trying to kiss me,” she said.
She says she could not move out of his reach, and she says she kept falling in and out of consciousness.
“I remember turning my head away from him. Like telling him I’m too drunk, and he never stopped,” she said.
She said she filed a report, the school investigated and found the man responsible for sex assault. But Pragya says he didn’t get expelled. He was suspended for one year. Pragya panics at the thought of seeing him again on campus.
“I don’t think it’s fair that he gets to come back here,” she said.
Spencer Colton said he was assaulted at the Northwestern the same year.
“I kept trying to push him off and he kept coming back on top of me in bed,” he said.
He reached out to the campus support center called CARE, but says the center didn’t have enough workers and he could not get an appointment.
“I gave her bunch of times, and she said I’m not available at any of those times.”
Spencer said he got discouraged and didn’t report his alleged attack for more than a year.
Spencer and Pragya both feel Northwestern set up roadblocks to their recovery. They also worry about the school’s willingness to allow the public to see sex violence reports.
Northwestern does post the AG report on their website, but makes it pretty difficult to find. Pragya is disappointed.
“They should be straightforward. You shouldn’t have to play guessing games.”
At DePaul, it appears users need a password to access the AG report.
Loyola stands alongside SIUE with no trace of the AG report on either website. So, why doesn’t SIUE make the AG numbers public?
“We haven’t actively said we’re not going to disclose it,” said Ball. “We just haven’t found a functional way for students to access it.”
But, Illinois State University has. It’s one of the few schools to make their AG numbers public and include them in their crime report with the federal numbers.
“We are not trying to hide statistics here. We try to provide as much information so hopefully they can make a better informed decision,” said ISU Police Chief Aaron Woodruff.
Survivors like Colton, Chandra, and Reed believe it shouldn’t be optional for schools to publicly report the numbers they give to the AG’s office. They want transparency across Illinois.
“Hopefully we can get some policies changed and get things right,” Reed said. “Something has to change. Someone has to speak out.”
The state legislature would have to make changes to the law requiring public disclosure. We’ve reached out to the politicians who sponsored the original law – but haven’t heard back. We also asked Attorney General Kwame Raoul to weigh in, but also haven’t yet received an official comment.
Attorney General 2016 Sexual Assault Reports, By University
Black Hawk College
Carl Sandburg College
Chicago State University
City Colleges Of Chicago
College Of DuPage
Eastern Illinois University
Heartland Community College
Illinois State University
Illinois Central College
Illinois Eastern Community Colleges
Illinois Institute Of Technology
John Wood Community College
Joliet Junior College
Kankakee Community College
Lake Forest College
Lincoln Land Community College
Lindenwood University — Belleville
Loyola University Chicago
Lutheran School Of Theology — Chicago
McHenry County College
Moraine Valley Community College
National University Of Health Sciences
North Central College
North Park University
Northeastern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Oakton Community College
Olivet Nazarene University
Prairie State College
Richland Community College
Robert Morris University — Illinois
Rock Valley College
Rosalind Franklin University Of Medicine And Science
Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Southwestern Illinois College
John Marshall Law School
Moody Bible Institute — Chicago
Trinity Christian College
Trinity International University
University Of Chicago
University Of Illinois — Chicago
University Of Illinois — Springfield
University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University Of St. Francis
Vatterott College — Fairview Heights
Waubonsee Community College
Western Illinois University
William Rainey Harper College
Northwestern University is committed to fostering an environment in which all members of our community are safe, secure and free from sexual misconduct of any form.
We are committed to transparency in making information available to the campus community regarding sexual misconduct. The University is also committed to confidentiality and giving survivors of sexual misconduct the ability to determine how they would like to respond. Northwestern makes confidential resources available to currently enrolled students at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life; and the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education (CARE). Confidential support is available to students who are survivors of sexual misconduct—whether that misconduct occurred on campus, at home, or elsewhere. These confidential resources encourage—but do not require—students to report incidents to Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinators. More information on confidentiality is available on the CAPS and CARE webpages.
The state requires the AG report to contain certain information, which is different from information required by other agencies. Specifically, the numbers of incidents in our AG report do not align with the numbers in our Annual Security Report, (ASR), which is required by the Clery Act, for 3 reasons: 1) Clery Act-required data used in the ASR is limited to incidents occurring at specific Clery-reportable locations, generally on campus or in the area immediately adjacent to campus, while the AG report must also include incidents where a location was not known; 2) unlike the ASR, the AG report must include only concerns reported by or on behalf of students; and 3) the AG report must include reports made to confidential resources, which the ASR does not. This explanation appears in the AG report as footnote 2 in both years of that report. For reference, those reports are available here and here.
The AG report is on the Office of Equity’s Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention website in the “about us” tab labeled “reports.” A link to the first report still appears in the News & Updates section on our sexual misconduct homepage. Additionally, the 2018 ASR contains a link to the Office of Equity’s reports page.
Northwestern takes seriously its obligations to offer confidential resources to our students at Northwestern and our community — and to create an environment in which people are safe, secure and supported. The Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE) does its best to accommodate student requests for meetings, and students have access to additional resources on the Northwestern campus, including Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS) and Religious and Spiritual Life. Students also have access to a wide variety of off-campus resources, many of them listed here:- Right now, Northwestern is in the process of conducting a search for a new director of CARE. We are working to fill that position as soon as possible.
The report submitted to the AG in accordance with the Preventing Sexual Violence In Higher Education Act (ILPSVHEA) differs in a number of ways from the annual federal Clery Act reporting. For example, Clery requires reports of crimes that occur only within Clery geography and the data provided in the ILPSVHEA report includes all student-related reports regardless of where the incident occurred. As you know, ILPSVHEA does not require schools to publish or release this information beyond their submission to the AG.
Caring for our community is our number one priority. Loyola has maintained a strong commitment to effectively addressing gender-based violence. While we currently do not have the report posted to our website, we are taking it into consideration. The University does have plans to significantly invest in further bolstering Loyola’s fair and equitable learning environment by launching a new office focused on ensuring equity and Title IX compliance.
While the University does not generally comment on pending litigation, we disagree with many of the allegations made in Ms. Reed’s lawsuit regarding her treatment by SIUE, and the University’s Title IX investigation process. SIUE takes all complaints of sexual assault and other forms of sexual harassment very seriously, and seeks to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment to all SIUE students, employees and visitors. We will vigorously defend against the allegations made by Ms. Reed in her complaint.
SIUE is routinely rated as one of the safest campuses in the country.